Thursday, August 20, 2009

Morning Lakeside

It is nice up here by the lake. It is a place to retreat, reflect, and explore whatever circumstance you seek. Thoreau had his Walden Pond to contemplate simplicity and harmony with nature, away from the mundane. I like to explore the late summer season by the lake and see how time resonates. The trails are laden with summer growth that give a wild, loose, out-of-control feel to each trek into the forest. The air is heavy and the cicadas loud with an ever present buzz that wakes you up like an alarm each day. Late summer in New England and the northeast has a certain hazy, lazy feel to it. All the work of nature to reach this point in the summer has been done, it is time to sit back and watch as it unfolds.

The morning mist evaporates with the sun, but if you rise early enough it wraps around you like a cool blanket. Unlike the bold force of ocean waves or the rolling of a fast river, the stillness of a lake invites another kind of reflection. It sits placid, asking for simple contemplation, a still body of water reflecting the surroundings that change, like life, with each passing season.

Acting as a mirror, you can sit at lake's edge to see what it has to mirror back to you. Except for the occasional boat, or fisherman, or passing heron, the lake remains calm in the summer heat. Unlike a swift brook or river, the still water inures a different kind of discovery, one that asks you stay present. Normally, to stay present is difficult with so many things we have to worry and think about. It takes time for these to peel off, hard to stay in the here and now because the mind thrives on living in a past that is navigated by an imagined future. But the lake celebrates the present moment, it reflects what is happening right now. It forces you to stay here in the now, while casting a slight eye to the past. How deep you wish to go is up to you. It doesn't force you any further than you like. How long you look is a reflection of how far you want to go.

You can stay at the surface admiring the reflection, or break through the polished glass surface and look deeper. Cast a stone at what you see and watch the water ripple in circles, like waves distorting the reflection ever slightly. This is the opportunity for a new perspective. See how things look through the distortion. What has changed from the previous reflection? Notice what remains when things once again return to stillness. The lake is its own palette because it paints the picture of what it sees. It remains both a window and a mirror for any who care to look more closely. I like to return to the lake in summer and like the landscape it reflects, it always mirrors back what it sees. However, whether I choose to see the reflection is inevitably, and always, up to me.

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